Dr. Dolittle at the Ape Council (9/21)

Chee-Chee stood at the doctor’s door and kept everyone away until he woke up. Then John Dolittle told the Apes that he had to go back home now. They were very surprised about this; because they had thought he would stay with them forever. And that evening all the Apes gathered in the jungle to talk about it.

The head chimpanzee stood up and said, “Why is the good man leaving? Isn’t he happy here with us?”

But none of them could answer him. Then the Great Gorilla stood up and said, “I think we should all go to him and ask him to stay. Maybe if we make him a new home and a bigger bed, and promise him lots of help to make life pleasant for him, maybe he will want to stay.”

Then Chee-Chee stood up; and all the others whispered, “Shh, be quiet! Look! Chee-Chee, the great Traveler, is going to speak!” And Chee-Chee said to the other Apes, “My friends, I’m afraid it’s useless to ask the doctor to stay. He has debts in his city and he says he has to go back to pay them.”

And the Apes asked him, “What is money?”

Dr dolittle

Then Chee-Chee told them that in the land of humans, you couldn’t get anything without money; you couldn’t do anything without money and that it was almost impossible to live without money. And some of them asked, “But can’t you even eat and drink without paying?”

Chee-Chee shook his head. And then he told them that even he, when he was with the organ-grinder, had to ask children for money. The head chimpanzee turned to the oldest orangutan and said, “Dear aunt, these men are surely strange creatures! Who would want to live in such a land? My gracious, how pitiful!”

Then Chee-Chee said, “When we came to you, we had no boat to cross the sea and no money to buy food for the journey. So a man lent us some cookies. We said we would pay him back when we returned. And we borrowed a boat from a sailor, but it was smashed on the rocks when we reached the coast of Africa. Now the doctor says he has to go back to give the sailor another boat – because the man was poor and his ship was all he had.”

And the Apes all fell silent for a while, they sat quietly on the ground and thought deeply. Finally, the biggest baboon stood up and said, “I think we should not let this good man leave our country before we give him a nice present to take with him, so that he knows we are grateful for everything he has done for us.”

And a little red monkey sitting in a tree shouted down, “I think so too!”

And then they all shouted and made a lot of noise: “Yes, yes. Let’s give him the most beautiful present a human has ever had!”

Now they began to wonder what they could give him. One said, “Fifty bags of coconuts!” And another shouted, “One hundred bunches of bananas! At least he won’t have to buy his fruit in the land where you pay to eat!”

But Chee-Chee told them that all these things would be too heavy to carry so far and would spoil before half of it was eaten. “If you want to please him,” he said, “give him an animal. You can be sure he will be kind to it. Give him a rare animal that he doesn’t have in his collection.”

And the Apes asked him, “What is a collection?”

Then Chee-Chee explained to them that humans collected animals and put them in cages so that people could come and look at them. And the Apes were very shocked and said to each other, “These people really don’t think, they’re foolish to be so easily amused. Shh! It’s a prison, that’s what he means.”

So then they asked Chee-Chee which rare animal they should give to the doctor, one that humans had not seen before. The head of the clawed monkeys asked, “Do they have an iguana?”

Chee-Chee said, “Yes, in the London Zoo.”

And another asked, “Do they have an okapi?”

Chee-Chee said, “Yes. In Belgium, where my organ-grinder took me five years ago, they had an okapi in a big city they call Antwerp.”

And another asked, “Do they have a pushing pullyu animal?”

Then Chee-Chee said, “No, no human has ever seen a Pushing Pullyu animal. Let’s give him that!”